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Riding with Kids

I’d love to know what tips/advice/hacks you have for riding with kids. Are there any groups, forums, or Facebook pages that are helpful? I will be riding with my twin 4 year olds in our cargo bike. If you have kids I would love to meet up sometime during the ride.

14 Replies

Sandaltan ., March 29, 2022 at 7:04 pm

I would not even consider riding RAGBRAI with two four year-olds shoulder-to-shoulder in a cargo bike.


This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Sandaltan ..


bayley33, March 29, 2022 at 9:53 pm

We’re planning to ride with our 7 yr old. She has her own bike and can do a lot of biking, but when she gets tired, I can put her on the Tern and strap her bike to mine. I get the sense that a lot of riders are anti-electric bike, so I guess we’ll just have to accept that! Our daughter would love to meet up with other kiddos.


Zcordell, March 30, 2022 at 10:47 am

The nice thing is they can change seats in the bucket too. The bucket fits 4 kids so they don’t have to sit next to each other the whole time.


Zcordell, March 30, 2022 at 10:52 am

@bayley33 yeah, isn’t RAGBRAI kind of built on being nice but also being a little crazy? Oh well. I don’t really care if people get frustrated with my electric pedal assist. I will be riding a bike that is 3-5 times as heavy as theirs (not including the kids) and I will be riding with kids… haha. When we get closer I’ll reach out about meeting up in Seargent Bluff or on the road. Enjoy riding!


Joseph Schlau, March 30, 2022 at 11:29 am

A couple of months ago Chdetrick posed this question on the forum.

Does anyone use a pedal assisted ebike? What are the feeling about this? I’m debating about setting my pedal assist bike on a low level so it doesn’t kick in unless I am really struggling below 6 mph on a hill or something.

    But don’t want to overstep my boundaries here. I know there are a lot of bike purest.

My answer to him at the time was,

In a way though, this reminds me of a high school freshman, standing there stammering while he asks permission from the “cool kids” to have a seat at the lunchroom table.

It’s your RAGBRAI experience, not the experience or opinion of the “purists” which matters. You bought the e-bike for a reason. Whatever you like and appreciate about your e-bike now you will like and appreciate even more on the long days at RAGBRAI.

Z, the safety of your kids is paramount. If an e-bike allows you to get your kids to a safe place in the rain, wind, or extreme heat you can run into on a route, then you need not mind the kool kids who express their anti-e-bike attitude. It’s your Ragbrai experience that counts, not theirs.

If you search the DesMoines Register from last July, there is an interesting article on the topic.


Zcordell, March 30, 2022 at 12:33 pm

Amen! Now, what tips for kids do people have for me. Haha

I’m bringing toilet paper, wet wipes, maybe some bubble blowing guns, streamers/pinwheels, a ragbrai specific bingo (with a unicycle, tutu, recumbent bike, flags on bikes, corn, pie, ice cream, what else?).

What ideas for entertainment you guys got for me?

Any tips for hydration? They will have water bottles and propel mixes to make “juice” and keep them interested in drinking.

I am pretty sure we will hit any and every water feature that is available (slip ‘n slides, pools, etc.). Looking forward to the adventure everyone!


Joseph Schlau, March 30, 2022 at 12:49 pm

On the 2019 ride there were plenty of opportunities to see cows, horses, and other animals on the other side of the fence along the route. Some families set up a mini petting zoo in their front yard. Horses you could pet at some Amish farms.

I was able to send a regular series of videos back to the grandkids. I’m sure they would have liked to see them in person.


Aasimar, April 1, 2022 at 1:39 pm

I started bringing my kids when they where 6 years old.
That first year My oldest did the last 2 days with me. He is now 15 and he hasn’t missed a day of RAGBRAI since.

Four years old seems a bit young to get started, especially if you are planning to have them ride the whole thing.

I can’t say much about doing RAGBRAI pulling the trailer. We started with a double wide trailer behind a mountain bike, but by the time we started ridding RAGBRAI I had my eldest on the back of a modified tandem. My youngest joined us the next year on a Trailer Cycle that we pulled with the tandem.

I Highly recommend going the tandem route if at all possible. it is much more efficient and stable. The difference between [Trailer -> Trailer Cycle -> Full Tandem] is huge.

With that said, here are my tips.

Make sure that the kids enjoy being in the trailer. Give them things to do (we had a bucket of Legos back in our trailer days). Ridding should be something they look forward to and not something that they dread. It is very likely that they will be sleeping for a majority of the ride time. Find parks/playgrounds at your stops to give them a chance to play. Get them excited about the stops you plan to make that day and include them in planning those stops. My boys get very excited when they hear the 2-cycle engines and know that we are stopping for ice cream.

Make sure that you are physically able to pull the trailer on long hot hilly days.

Get Lights and Start Early. You will be stopping a lot, and stops will take significantly longer than ridding solo. Lines are shorter early in the day. The road is less crowded for your long, less stable bike. It also gets you out of the hottest part of the day.

Be prepared for the weather. Trailers are not water tight. Dealing with Heat is obvious, but you need to be able to deal with Cold as well. We were caught out on RAGBRAI one year with 60 degree temps and rain. I did not have enough warm clothes for the kids, and it was miserable.

Practice routines so that you can trust them to stay Hydrated. Remind them to drink and monitor their water bottles to make sure that they are.

Help them with bathroom hygiene. Young children don’t always do the best at cleaning themselves up (especially in kibos). It might be less important in a trailer than on bike saddles, but chafing and skin irritation can be serious trouble. I always used to carry an extra strength tube of diaper rash cream to use as a preventative after bathroom stops.

Sun protection is incredibly important. Apply sunscreen early and often.

Practice tent camping before RAGBRAI (if you have other arrangements, practice those). About a week before the ride, start waking them up early so it isn’t a shock when you start the ride. Also, work on staying quite in the morning. You will hopefully be up and out early and you don’t want to bother other campers. If they are able give them jobs in the morning to help break camp. Do as much as you can the night before to have camp ready to break. For us, breaking camp and getting started has been the most difficult part of the ride.

Swimming pools, Community Centers and YMCAs are the best places to get showers (short of having an rv or a charter with in camp showers). Most of these have “Family” shower areas. Often these have NO LINES. Many of these places also have a lower admission rate for children so you can save a few bucks over a shower truck. Choose an Indoor pool over an outdoor pool to avoid additional sun exposure. My boys love swimming and very much looked forward to finding a pool.

Expect them to get whiney and have an idea of what you will do when it happens (35 + hours in a trailer is a long time)

Overall, Practice and Routine will make the biggest difference. Something is bound to go wrong, and how you deal with that could impact the kids future desire to ride with you. Don’t be disappointed if you have to bail. Four is very young to be doing more than a day of RAGBRAI.

Good Luck


Zcordell, April 1, 2022 at 4:43 pm

This is great, thank you! They do love being in the bucket. I wouldn’t even consider it if they didn’t enjoy it. And my bike or more like a tandem, they just don’t pedal. ;) I don’t think I will need to wake them up early, they’ve got that down.


rANDOMcITIZEN, April 5, 2022 at 12:02 pm

-LOTS of snack foods that won’t put them into a coma,…entire boxes of low-sugar, dry cereal worked great for my brother’s boys. Bonus! they can use it as “parade confetti” coming into a town!
-Stickers, dry erase markers for the inside of the bucket decoration committee.
-A “Sea-to-Summit kitchen sink”; the compact, foldable, soft-sided camping water buckets worked great for my kids on hot days in our Burley, bungee strapped to the frame, small scoops/cheap containers to pour water,…an added 8 pounds, but nice for keeping heat levels down. The opening is smaller than the base for less than expected spill out.
-Customize water bottles for consumption with stickers marking off, say, 3 ounce increments, then getting them excited to get to the tiger, dinosaur,…
-do have a bail plan if the crowds get overwhelming for the darlings. (Off subject, I am a twin, my twin nephews are 2, whose grandmother is a twin, and I take them every week on picnic and field trip day, do your kids still do the “twin talk”?)

Good luck!


Randall Murphy, April 5, 2022 at 12:44 pm

I know that this is a bit off topic but you made me remember this moment from a number of years ago and it still makes me smile when I think of it.
Somewhere in the middle of the day I rode up behind a Dad with his young son in a bikeseat, (with helmet), right behind him. I don’t know his age but he was pretty young and during the entire time it took me to pass them, the young lad was stream-of-consciousness commenting one long sentence to his Dad on what he saw. In the few minutes that it took me to pass them I was worn out. I can only imagine how his Dad felt by the end of the day. “Dad, look at that cow.. why is he alone.. does he have any friends.. he looks like he is hot.. does he go into the barn at night.. what is his name.. does the farmer bring him water to drink.. what does he do if it rains.. can cows get sunburned.. does he stay outside in the winter.. etc….etc…etc…”


Zcordell, April 5, 2022 at 2:45 pm

Randall – Oh, that’s just called parenting. You develop skills to be able to work through that.


Zcordell, April 5, 2022 at 3:01 pm

@rANDOMcITIZEN thanks for the advice. Yeah, we do have a bail option. I like the confetti idea. I plan to stop when I see large water opportunities for them to jump in. I like the water bottle ideas. Maybe I will have a sticker of ice cream and pie once they drink it down to a certain point haha.


Randall Murphy, April 5, 2022 at 3:22 pm

I totally agree. My two boys are in their mid-thirties now and I still look back at those years fondly.


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